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Authors: Louise Wise

A Proper Charlie (42 page)

BOOK: A Proper Charlie
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It’s your father that’s successful and rich, you’re just the playboy son, born with a golden spoon in your gob.’

Oh Melly,’ Charlie muttered beneath her breath, ‘that’s out of order.’

Now, that’s out of order!’ Ben came back, and Charlie smiled. ‘I’ve never felt this way about a woman before – about anyone before, and your cheapening it like – like it’s something sordid.’

On your part it is sordid,’ Melvin interjected. ‘She’s all loved-up, dreaming of a white wedding, six kids around her ankles, and a pet dog and cat. You’re playing her, using the romantic vision she has of you to get her into bed.’

Six kids?’ she sniffed. ‘Who’s he kidding?’

Getting her into bed is the last thing on my mind!’ Ben sounded more hurt than angry. ‘I fell in love with her the moment she entered my office that first Monday when she told me her nephew was dying of varicose veins.’ He paused, and his voice thickened with emotion, ‘Or maybe it was when I saw her wearing the Union Flag dress at the party, o-or when she sat in my office and tried to guess my name.’

Tears pricked at the back of her eyes. Ben really sounded like he loved her! She swallowed, and stared at the door. She reached for the door handle.

And what about your girlfriend?’

Charlie’s hand fell away from the handle as if it sprouted prickles.

My girlfriend?’

Nicole something or other. The girlfriend that’s been arranged by your father. Donald always chooses your women; can’t be trusted to pick your own apparently because you choose innocent young girls from the typing pool!’ His voice had begun to rise until he was shouting towards the end of his accusation. The silence afterwards seemed to stretch – until Ben chuckled.

My father introduced me to certain ladies,’ Ben said eventually. ‘He thought they were suitable, but I thought they were boring. Nicole and I finished ages ago. While I dated her – and I use that word lightly – it kept my father off my back. Anything else you want to accuse me of? How about the forest fires in Australia? Or, closer to home, the airline strikes?’

There was a long silence then, ‘I’m sorry.’

What was that?’

I said, I’m sorry. What do you want, blood?’ snapped Melvin.

If I were closer you’d see blood, you muppet,’ Charlie muttered.

No, you were looking out for a friend and I admire that,’ Ben said.

She’s more to me than a friend.’

I’m in love with your
, Melvin,’ Ben said. ‘What more can I say?’

Sister… yeah…’ There was a lot of sniffing going on behind the door, and Charlie suspected that Melvin was crying. ‘My little baby doll.’ He swore, cleared his throat and said with an embarrassed laugh, ‘I
told myself I wouldn’t do this again in front of you!’

Charlie didn’t notice her tears until she could taste them. Her bottom lip trembled.

Do you really, really love me, Ben?’ she asked softly to the door. ‘Or am I dreaming? Are the drugs still in my system?’

We nearly lost her,’ said Ben. ‘She thinks she’s all street-wise and savvy, but she isn’t. She’s –’ to Charlie’s own astonishment his voice cracked as well. ‘She’s my world now. I love her, she’s a crazy, maddening, beautiful –’ his voice softened – ‘wonderful person.’

Charlie covered her mouth with her hands and stared at the door in front of her. If she opened it would they still be there?

She was half afraid that Ben, his words and declaration would all vanish the moment she pushed the door open. She turned around wanting to go back and find the doctor and ask him to witness what she was hearing.

She’s told me a lot about you,’ Ben said, and she stopped. ‘You’re the only family she knows.’ There was a noise of movement like back patting. ‘You
her family.’

I’ve acted like a sulky kid around the new kid coming between him and his best friend. I’m sorry. Do I still have my job?’

There was more movement, and Charlie imagined them to be shaking hands.

Your job was never in any danger. I’ll get us a coffee – I guess we could both do with one.’

Charlie sniffed and hiccupped, then the door was pulled open.

Charlie!’ said Ben.

She gave a watery grin, looking sheepish.

How long have you been standing there?’ asked Melvin.

She beamed at Melvin. ‘Long enough.’ Her chin wobbled, and then on a half laugh, half sob she threw herself into Ben’s arms and buried her face against his shoulder. ‘There’s enough cheese in this room to entice a zillion or more mice,’ she said against his chest. ‘And I love cheese.’

His arms closed around her, and secured her to him.

Melvin said behind her, ‘Baby doll – I mean, Charlie – it’s so good to see you’re OK,’

Charlie pulled out of Ben’s arms and turned towards him. His face was tear-stained, and his nose was red and snotty looking.

Don’t stop calling me “baby doll”, Melly, please don’t,’ she said and bounced into his arms. ‘Fipping ‘eck, my only fear was that we’d never be able to make up if I didn’t survive Sick Rick.’

Don’t say that.’

She hugged him. ‘But I did, and we are!’ She turned to look at Ben. ‘We argued about you. Mel gave me an ultimatum,’ she said happily.

I can imagine,’ Ben said.

But we aren’t the type of planet and comet to explode on impact, are we? We’re the type to

Melvin gave her a little push towards Ben. ‘She’s nervous,’ he said. ‘She chats aimlessly when she’s nervous. Just nod and pretend to know what she’s going on about.’

Ben circled his arm around Charlie’s waist, and gazed down at her. A look of love. Pure, unadulterated love. Planet and comet becoming one.

Connected and fused,’ he said.

Blimey, Wallis, you’ve pulled!

Also by Louise Wise





A tale of romance and survival as three people travel from 2236 to the beginning of time.

Jennifer Daykin joins the three-man crew to explore the newly discovered planet, Eden.

All was going well until Jenny found herself deserted…


She listened for an answering shout – there was nothing. In the distance, Jenny was transfixed with horror as the space shuttle rose into the blue sky of Eden.

No... Don’t leave me here!’

Only the pounding of her heart answered her.


but not alone

The instant she hit the floor she curled into the foetal position. Finally, the bare feet walked away. A Native American warrior, had been her first thought, but it was his eyes that had alerted her he wasn’t an Indian or even human. They were completely black; black, dry orbs in a battered face.


Ordinary people with ordinary emotions, fears and insecurities.

Only this isn’t Earth, and he isn’t human.


A modern day Adam and Eve


Jenny watched his face. He sat against the fire damaged tree, his face tilted back as if enjoying the warmth of the suns on his face. He was a powerfully built man – alien – she corrected. His black hair, blowing slightly in the wind, hung around his shoulders.

She eyed his bare chest and had to forcefully avert her eyes from the splendid ridges of muscle that played there. But without any conscious effect, they drifted back again. In the end, she gave up trying to look away and scrutinised him, telling herself she was a scientist and was obtaining important research.

With his eyes closed, she could pretend he was an ordinary man and she was back in England.

She sucked in her breath. His eyes were open, and on her. His alien gaze was sleepy. He stretched with the self-indulgent grace of a cat, and yawned loudly.

Jenny yawned too, it being infectious.

The alien smiled – at least she thought it was a smile. The twisted mouth, the exposed lower gum and white teeth resembled a smile – or a sneer. The glittering black eyes were on her face and held an unmistakable masculine interest in her.

Had he been aware of her furtive scrutiny of him? Jenny’s face burned.

Thank you for the food,’ she said, for want of saying something.

He inclined his head. ‘Thank you for the…’ he said, and replaced the last of the sentence with a word from his own language. Watching her, he spoke several more words in his native tongue.

Jenny copied them, becoming tangled in the strange terminology. The alien man looked pleased at her attempt at his language. He yawned again, and closed his eyes.

He looked peaceful, and Jenny watched as his huge chest rose and fell in a gentle motion.

She wondered whether she should leave. But it was so warm here and she was so comfortable. She couldn’t bear to go back the confines of the buggy, not yet.

She told him about her mother, and of her famous father;
Zack Bodie, the astronaut who successfully mined for lunar water

pockets of water left over from billions of years ago on the moon, and whose footsteps she was walking in.

She knew he couldn’t understand a word she was saying, even if he was listening but it was a comfort to talk about her parents, and to think back to the days where she was invincible. She almost laughed at that.

After a while, with her belly full of food and with the warmth of the fire close by, her eyes began to grow heavy. The alien was clearly asleep, and unable to resist the temptation she lay down and closed her eyes.


He opened his eyes, wondering why she had stopped talking. She was asleep on her side, with her hands a cushion for her head. She looked so childlike and vulnerable he knew it would be easy to crush her.

He had been taking things slow, and gently forcing her into accepting his presence. It had been a challenge on his character but he was pleased with himself so far.

He hadn’t understood much of her chatter for she had spoken too fast for him to catch many of the alien words. But he’d understood she’d spoken of home, and of her childhood. This pleased him for it made him realise all the studying he was doing of the human’s language was working.


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BOOK: A Proper Charlie
12.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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